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If you had told me six months ago that the real estate world—and in fact the world in general—was going to be turned upside down, have a huge shakedown and then rebuild, doing things differently… well, I probably wouldn't have believed you! But that is exactly what has happened and, through the adversity of COVID-19, it has been heartening to see a strengthening of humanity in terms of kindness, family times, business development and more, all of which I believe will make us better and stronger human beings. 

We can all feel proud of what every individual in this country has done to minimise risk and I, like many of you, thank our frontline people for their commitment in keeping our wonderful country safe. My thoughts go out to those people who have been adversely affected by this terrible disease, whether through illness, the loss of a family member or a friend, or the loss of a business and income from trading. 

But now we have turned the corner and, no matter what your political belief, Jacinda Ardern and her team of advisers have done their best for all of us. Only time—and our commitment to see this through—will tell if their best was good enough.

In the last 48 hours, the New Zealand Government has announced a change from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3. So, what does this mean in the world of real estate?

The speed at which the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented took most people by surprise, leaving us uncertain about what we could and couldn’t do under the different levels. Properties were transacted right up until Wednesday 25 March, when Alert Level 4 came into effect. Vendors and purchasers were left questioning how to fulfil conditions in contracts (such as building reports); how to carry out a pre-settlement inspection on a property they had purchased and were about to settle on; and how they could physically move into their new property and out of their old one.

As from midnight on Monday 27 April, we will find ourselves under Alert Level 3, and all of these things will be able to happen. Building inspectors will be able carry out reports on property (whilst observing strict hygiene criteria, social distancing, and all of the other stipulations to keep everyone safe). Purchasers will be able to do pre-settlement inspections and will finally be able to move into their properties, again abiding by the strict protocols laid out by the Ministry of Health around these activities.

During the lockdown, our marketing team has been diligently working to ensure that, under the new guidelines, purchasers will be able to view properties online through very advanced technology. This gives viewers a good “feel” for a home without physically inspecting it. 

One of the most important factors about the purchasing of a home—the critical part: making sure it is a home and not just a house—is the ability to become emotionally involved. This is achieved, of course, through a physical inspection to get the “feel” of the home. Subject to strict hygiene criteria, social distancing and traceability processes being observed, buyers will, under Level 3, be able to physically inspect a property—albeit for a limited time-span of 15 minutes—giving them the opportunity to experience the emotional impact which is such an important part of the home-buying process. 

Over the past four weeks, many people have been contemplating options regarding their real estate needs. In some cases, people may have discovered that working from home is perfect for them, and therefore they would like a property that allows them to do that; or in some cases people will have considered down-sizing to realise some equity from their homes to reduce debt or to use for other priorities. No matter what a seller needs, our salespeople have the tools to help: great marketing ideas, using excellent technology, and the ability to do a personalised marketing plan for every property in order to target the correct market segment with maximum exposure. Our aim is not simply to find “a” buyer … we actively look for “the” buyer—the one who will pay the most for your home.

Our EVES salespeople are ready and willing to embrace the next stage of this journey. Whilst our offices will be open to admin staff only, with strictly limited access for salespeople and no public access, our salespeople will  continue to work from home, with all the necessary technology and connectivity to list and market property for their clients. They have spent the last four weeks looking at their own individual real estate businesses, discussing and working on strategies for operating in the “new normal” and, in many cases, even continuing to list and sell property under Level 4! 

We are ready for the new normal, ready to assist you in your real estate decisions and ready for all that is in front of us. 

I look forward to coming back to you again in two weeks to keep you up to date with what the next phase of real estate will look like.

From the entire EVES team to you, we wish you the very best in successfully getting through Alert Level 3. Stay safe, stay in your “waiting room”, and thank you for choosing EVES to assist you in your real estate transactions.